My backyard is approximately 60' deep and 100' wide. The back fence line
has about 5 mature trees (oaks, mostly) that generate a lot of shade. The
rear portion of the yard gets dappled shade. About half of the back of yard
has _very hard_ clay soil that currently just gets baked by our Florida sun.
My wife and I would like to renovate the back yard and convert most of it
into a flower/plant garden. Our first step is to get the soil into a shape
where it can handle the addition of plants. To that end, my wife and I have
considered the following and wanted to see if anyone had any suggestions.
Step one would be to get a pole saw and remove low*** branches from the
trees and thin them out a bit to allow a bit more sun into portions of the
back yard. The trees seem very healthy and so this shouldn't in any way
After that we plan to rent a roto-tiller and till the area where we later
plan to put plant beds in. This will be between 1/3rd and 1/2 of the back
yard. At this same time we would bring in one dump truck load of topsoil to
incorporate with what we currently have .
After this, we would bring in a load of mulch, and heavily mulch this entire
area. Once this was done we would plan to let this sit until next year in
order to allow the mulch to begin to decompose and allow earthworms and such
to begin working in these areas.
Next year we would add an inground irrigation system and begin bringing
plants into this area.
This seems like a big job and we'd plan to do it ourselves with the possible
assistance of some willing friends. Does this seem like a good plan? Any
One big question we're wrestling with this what to do with the "grass" in
the area we're planning to work with. There's not much grass there overall
(due to the hard soil) but there are some fairly healthy patches. Would it
be OK to just till this into the soil in order to add organic material or is
this asking for trouble? I'd figure that the addition of heavy mulch over
the top would stop this from growing and cause it decay. True?
I've heard that gypsum is good to use with heavy clay soil as it causes it
to lose it's solidity. Would it be beneficial to work some of this into the
existing soil when we till it?
Any other ideas or hints would be welcome.